An 'entertaining' 45 years: Interviews with the stars

By DON FOWLER
Posted 6/26/20

Julie Andrews Filmmaker Blake Edwards was ill and could not be present to receive an award from the Rhode Island International Film Festival, so he sent his wife in his place. His wife happened to be Julie Andrews. The distinguished actress

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An 'entertaining' 45 years: Interviews with the stars

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Julie Andrews

Filmmaker Blake Edwards was ill and could not be present to receive an award from the Rhode Island International Film Festival, so he sent his wife in his place. His wife happened to be Julie Andrews.

The distinguished actress filled the Columbus Theatre, delighting the audience with her charm and beauty.

The press was allotted five minutes each for personal interviews, held in a cold, stark basement.

I had spent only a couple of minutes, when I started getting the “cut” sign. I mentioned to her that I had Googled her, only to discover a site dedicated to her movies and when they were shown on TV. She was surprised and asked if I could get her a copy. I hopped in my car, drove to Cranston and returned as she was finishing her last interview.

Ms. Andrews thanked me profusely and autographed the festival poster to her “Dear friends, Don and Joyce.” I made it a rule not to ask for autographs of stars that I interviewed, but this one still hangs in our front hall.

Dorothy Hamill

Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill played Peter Pan at PPAC, wheeling her elderly mother in a wheelchair to the press reception after the performance. While everyone gathered around Hamill for photo ops, Joyce went over and talked with her mother. The star noticed, came over and granted us an interview. A week later, I received a “thank you” note, the only one I have ever received from an interviewee.

Alabama

We had been fans of the Warwick Musical Theatre since we moved to Rhode Island. In the early years, they were doing weeklong musicals, which we’ll write about down the road.

They switched to different performers every night, which made us frequent travelers to the “tent” on Route 2.

Barbara Bonoff invited us inside the adjoining tent for an Alabama BBQ, as the opening act was about to begin. We sent with a bunch of good ol’ boys in cowboy hats and dungarees, assuming that they were the road crew, telling them all about Rhode Island.

We heard this lovely voice drifting from the stage and learned that it was a young boy from Hope Valley named Billy Gillman.

We then took our seats and waited for Alabama to come on stage, only to discover that they were the good ol’ boys we had dinner with.

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